To the editor:
While reading through the Gloucester Education Foundation 2012 Annual Report which kicks off the Annual Appeal, I thought to myself: Wow! This is not my father's Gloucester Public Schools, nor is it the Gloucester Schools I attended or even that my children attended.
Amazing things are going on in every grade and at each school.
Nevertheless, at budget time it is difficult not to be disheartened at the painful funding choices our elected officials must make.
I thought about how luxurious were the days when my dad was a Gloucester pupil and then when I was a student here in the 1950s and '60s. School committees had autonomy then, and whatever they determined was needed to fund the schools, the City Council had to appropriate. No need for private sector involvement because tax dollars funded all.
But go visit our schools, talk with faculty members, or take the Reader's Digest approach and spend 10 minutes reading the Gloucester Education Foundation Annual Report. I think you will be astounded by the breadth and depth of our district's innovative educational programs at every grade level, during and after school, and even summer vacation, in literacy, math, science, technology, arts and other disciplines.
A sampling includes Physics through Robotics, Soundfield Technology in the kindergartens, the O'Maley wind turbine project, Computer Assisted Design software for vocational education, Chemistry with iPads, Jo Ride SPED bicycles, Summer Literacy, the Summer Science program at MIT and Maritime Gloucester, the "Stone Soup" project, theater professionals working with elementary school productions, Ballroom Dancing, Art History curriculum and Advanced Engineering.
The Gloucester Education Foundation (GEF) is pleased and proud to partner with the Gloucester Public School District by raising money to help sponsor and sustain such innovative educational programs through both teacher-driven and GEF-inspired initiatives.
Six years ago, I wrote on behalf of the Foundation's board of directors to thank parents, community members, businesses and local non-profits for $80,000 in donations and pledges. Today, I write to thank these same supporters and others for more than $2 million in revenues raised in the last five years. Your support has also enabled GEF to establish and grow an Endowment Fund to enhance the educational opportunities for our children's children.
As to the "not my father's Gloucester Public Schools" thought, when I look at the exciting opportunities offered to every Gloucester Public School student today and the broad-based community involvement through volunteers in the schools and private donations to augment taxpayer support, I am confident that Gloucester is providing a high-quality education to all of its children today and working hard for an even better education in the future.
It is the Gloucester Education Foundation's mission to make Gloucester one of the five best school districts in Massachusetts. Please give as generously as you can to the 2012 Annual Appeal so we can continue to make headway.
ROBERT W. CUNNINGHAM
Member of the Board,
Gloucester Education Foundation